Antibiotics being handed out ‘like smarties’ by online pharmacies


The BDA has joined other medical organisations condemning the handing out of antibiotics by online pharmacies

BBC investigation has revealed a rise in the number of online pharmacies selling antibiotics without face-to-face consultations.

A number of medical organisations, including the British Dental Association (BDA), have raised concerns over the way antibiotics can be prescribed to patients without any checks and against National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

‘This BBC investigation highlights an urgent need to raise public awareness of AMR, and the importance of seeing a dentist if people are concerned they might have a dental infection, rather than going online for antibiotics,’ BDA scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said.

‘Patients may be surprised to learn that antibiotics won’t cure their dental abscesses and analgesia is more often the treatment of choice for tooth-related pain.

‘It doesn’t help that some online pharmacies are dishing out antibiotics like smarties for dental problems, which sends out completely the wrong message to patients.’

AMR threat

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been highlighted as a serious threat to public health by the World Health Organization.

Faye Kirkland, who undertook the BBC investigation, was able to get three different antibiotics from an online store for conditions, including a dental problem, within 24 hours.

‘The health risks presented by AMR require a change in gear from patients, practitioners, and policymakers,’ chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said.

‘Dentists are willing to take responsibility for their share in combatting this risk.

‘What we don’t have is a contract that provides adequate time for dentists to treat emergency cases.

‘So we call on the government to recognise AMR and factor this into any reformed package.’

One comment

  1. 1

    Without sounding like a broken record, I am sure the big, often multi-national companies involved in these sort of consumer demand led services are not being held to the same standards as healthcare professionals who would be quite rightly chastised for this sort of behaviour.

    Once again we are seeing healthcare being made to fit a commercial model and whilst I accept that antibiotics are freely available from many of our neighbouring European countries this in itself does not justify the risk exposed to patients, regardless of their participation.


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